Saved by faith or by work?


#1

The Catholic church says that the work we do on earth is equally important to the faith and that we are saved by our work.
I say that we are only saved by faith and that good work comes as a result of our faith.

How can these verses be explained:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.(Ephesians 2: 9-10).
Thank you.


#2

Homer, if you really want to dialogue on this, I suggest you start with this link:Salvation

There are many sub-topics on this page and you reall ought to take the time to read them all. This topic is way too complex for sound bite answers and you will do better if you take the time to read this material.

Don’t worry, it won’t make you dirty to read Catholic material.

1Th 5:21 “test everything; hold fast what is good,”

Justin


#3

Hello Homer,

The way I see it, the issue of salvation boils down to what one believes about justification. Most Protestants (though not all, the Anabaptists/Mennonites being a notable exception) believe that the nature of justification is extrensic in nature (i.e. Christ’s merits are imputed to the believer) while Catholics believe that justification is intrensic in nature (i.e. grace is infused/poured into the soul of the believer making the believer just). Interestingly enough, until Martin Luther, no Christian writer/theologian taught justification was via imputation and not infusion.

BTW, Hans Kung’s excellent book, Justification, was just republished this month, and is a great resource. I would also recommend Anthony Lane’s, Justification by Faith - in Catholic-Protestant Dialogue.

Grace and peace,

Aug


#4

Homer,

Please do not tell us what we believe, unless you are quoting from an official document of the Catholic Church.

The Church condemned works salvation as early as the Council of Orange in A.D. 529. Here’s the condemnation by the Council of Trent (1545-73):

“ON JUSTIFICATION CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.”


#5

Hans Kung does not speak for the Catholic Church.


#6

[quote=homer]The Catholic church says that the work we do on earth is equally important to the faith and that we are saved by our work.
I say that we are only saved by faith and that good work comes as a result of our faith.

How can these verses be explained:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.(Ephesians 2: 9-10).
Thank you.
[/quote]

TIt seems that you don’t completely understand the Church’s teaching on this subject. The RCC doesn’t teach that we are saved by our works at all. In fact, it is the Catholic Church’s infallible teaching that we CAN’T do anything of our own human nature that pleases God. It is only by God’s grace that we are able to do anything meritorious.

When the Catholic Church says that we are saved by faith plus works, She is speaking of it in the same sense that it is talked about in the book of James…It is NOT by faith alone that we are saved…Faith without works is dead…even the demons in hell have this kind of faith (without works), but it doesn’t save them.

There are two different kinds of faith. One being a mere intellectual belief or knowledge of something (which is what the demons in hell have), and the other being the kind of faith that brings about positive action (faith working through love).

If you say that we are saved by faith alone meaning mere intellectual knowledge, then the RCC condemns this belief. If, however, when you say that by faith alone we are saved, you mean faith working through love (faith that brings about good works), then the RCC affirms this.

But also know that every good work we do is only possible because God has given us the necessary grace to do that good work (sola gratia) and that any grace or merit that we may recieve is because of what Jesus has done for us (sola Christos).

So, Catholics and protestants agree on three of the four solas…Sola fide (but this is conditional on the definition), sola gratia, and sola Christos. The one that we don’t agree on is sola scriptura.


#7

I agree with you whole heartedly on this statement. I have in the past misinterpreted what I thought was considered a belief by the Catholic Church and will most likely do it again in the future. It seems that there are many people in the Catholic Church, just as in others, that do not fully understand what the Catholic Church does believe on some issues - hence all of the questions on other forums on this bulletin board.

I have seen many statements on this non-catholic forum telling me what my Church believes that were completely incorrect assumptions. So do try not to get too upset at anything that non-Catholics might misinterpret.

We are only human after all. It is a good chance for you to educate in the name of the Catholic Church.


#8

The Council of Trent on Justification

CHAPTER VIII

HOW THE GRATUITOUS JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER BY FAITH IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD

But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely,[44] these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God[45] and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.

For, if by grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace.[46]

Canons Concerning Justification

Canon 1.

If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law,[110] without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.

Canon 2.

If anyone says that divine grace through Christ Jesus is given for this only, that man may be able more easily to live justly and to merit eternal life, as if by free will without grace he is able to do both, though with hardship and difficulty, let him be anathema.

Canon 3.

If anyone says that without the predisposing inspiration of the Holy Ghost[111] and without His help, man can believe, hope, love or be repentant as he ought,[112] so that the grace of justification may be bestowed upon him, let him be anathema.

Canon 4.

If anyone says that man’s free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God’s call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema.

Full context with footnotes and scriptural references at this link:

ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/TRENT6.HTM


#9

[quote=homer]The Catholic church says that the work we do on earth is equally important to the faith and that we are saved by our work.
I say that we are only saved by faith and that good work comes as a result of our faith.

How can these verses be explained:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.(Ephesians 2: 9-10).
Thank you.
[/quote]

Actually, we are saved by neither faith nor works, but through grace alone. It is through our faith that we ask for this grace. However, with this grace comes a price.

Matthew 25:1-13 discusses the ten virgins who were given lamps to meet their bridegroom. Five were wise, but five were foolish. The wise virgins prepared by using the lamps and preparing them oil. The other five were foolish. They had the lamps but did not have enough oil to meet the bridegroom.

Matthew 25:14-30 then goes into the talents. The one who used his talents to gain more was praised by God (Matt 25:21) but the one who buried his talents was not (Matt 25:30).

Matthew 25:31-46 goes into separating the sheep from the goats. The sheep inherited the kingdom and the goats did not. Why? Because “Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these, ye did it to me.” Matt 25:45.

It seems clear to me. What do the lamps represent? GRACE. What do the talents represent? GRACE. He gives it freely but we must then do our part with what we have. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Luke 12:48

It is not about what “we do” but what we do with “what He gives us.”

God Bless


#10

[quote=Britta]Actually, we are saved by neither faith nor works, but through grace alone. It is through our faith that we ask for this grace. However, with this grace comes a price.[/font]
[/quote]

Britta you beat me to it! This is exactly what I was thinking as I scrolled through this thread. Many people think the terms Faith and Grace are synonomous but they are not. Grace is from God. Grace from God is what saves. Faith is from us. It is an act of obedience/contrition that we make freely to God. Since nothing we do can effect our salvation then Faith itself is not how we are saved. Likewise for Works. God asks good works of us but it is not something that brings our salvation because, just as with our act of faith, we can not save ourselves.


#11

[quote=homer]The Catholic church says that the work we do on earth is equally important to the faith and that we are saved by our work.
I say that we are only saved by faith and that good work comes as a result of our faith.

How can these verses be explained:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.(Ephesians 2: 9-10).
Thank you.
[/quote]

Your Ephesians quote is talking about our initial justification, which we Catholics agree is only by the grace of God.

Salvation is not a one-time event though. You think it is, so you read that verse and think that is the end of the story.

If our works come automatically from real faith, then why would Jesus warn us to keep producing fruit or be cut off and burned?


#12

“As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:8, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).”


#13

[quote=homer]The Catholic church says that the work we do on earth is equally important to the faith and that we are saved by our work.
[/quote]

Actually, it’s both faith and works working together. Both are a result of the Holy Spirit’s influence.

How can these verses be explained:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.(Ephesians 2: 9-10).
Thank you.

Simple: Apostle Paul speaks of salvation by grace (which Catholics affirm), not by works as in not by the works of the law, we know this because the context also refer to circumcision and the regulations of the law (Ephesians 2:11,15).

In addition, verse 10 says God ordained that his people will do good works. So he’s distinguishing two types of works: works of the law and works unto righteousness, which is through the Holy Spirit’s ministry (2 Cor 3:7-9)

Paul’s warnings about “works” were aimed at the Judaizers that sought justification under the Mosaic covenant system centered in circumcision, ritual washings, feast observance, and such. That system, being without the grace of the Holy Spirit and Christ’s blood, could not justify. Compare the following verses:

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. (Rom 3:28)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

Both refer to boasting (via observing the Mosaic system of circumcision, etc). Both refer to faith. So they’re speaking of the same subject.

And when comparing Rom 3:28 and James 2:24, they appear to contradict but both were referring to faith, and both were referring to two different types of works.

So when looking at them together, it basically means the faith accompanies fruit - works which are ultimately done through the power of the Holy Spirit. Catholics believe that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17), and we believe such faith concerns one’s salvation since Jas 2:14 says, “Can such faith save him?”

Thus we do not believe mere intellectualism can save. Rather a faith that’s alive and doing God’s will. It’s also evidence of Christ living in us. And the reverse is probably true: absolutely no fruit suggests no Christ.


#14

This is an honest question so please do not take it as an attack. I have heard from one side of the fence what indulgences were and what they were for, could a well-versed Catholic please explain the theory of indulgences, what was the actual purpose of them, and how and if they are used today.


#15

Please start a new thread on indulgences.


#16

[quote=Katholikos]Please start a new thread on indulgences.
[/quote]

Sorry I posted the qeustion here because I have been led to believe that it deals with “works”


#17

[quote=Katholikos]Hans Kung does not speak for the Catholic Church.
[/quote]

Agreed. But then, no one on this message board does either.

Now, with that said, Kung wrote *Justification *before his teaching license was removed. Further the book has an *Nihil Obstat *and Imprimatur.

I have read the book cover-to-cover and have found nothing in Kung’s teaching on justification that contradicts official Catholic dogma. (BTW, have you read the book?)

Grace and peace,

Aug


#18

In the process of our salvation, our justification is entirely dependent on the grace of God, which provides us with the faith to believe in the salvific work of Christ on the cross.
However, our sanctification depends on our works in this world, which is the work we do in concert with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Works do count toward our sanctification, but not toward our justification which comes entirely through God’s grace and our willingness to put our faith in Christ.
At the end of time, the Almighty God, through his Son Jesus Christ will effect our glorification.
It helps to separate the three ideas to better understand them.
I hope that helps.


#19

The point is that we believe that faith apart from works is a non-existent premise… there is no such thing as faith without works…


#20

Of course. Works are the most natural outpouring of our faith and the most sure sign of our justification.
Without works it would be difficult if not impossible to believe that faith was truly present.
But our works would also be the most immediate sign of the work of sanctification carried on within us by the Holy Spirit.


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